Youth & Suicide

According to the most recent California Healthy Kids Survey, 24% of 7th graders, 29% of 9th graders, and 33% of 11th graders felt sad and hopeless for 2 weeks or more during the past year. Additionally, 16% of 9th graders and 17% of 11th graders seriously considered suicide during the past year.

Ventura County Behavioral Health works with local schools to implement programs such as SafeTalk – a program designed to train confidential peer counselors. For more information, visit safeTALK.

Suicide Warning Signs

Many suicidal youth act in ways that signal their suicidal thinking. These include:

  • Preoccupation with death
  • Suicidal threats in the form of direct and indirect statements
  • Suicide notes and plans
  • Prior suicidal behavior
  • Making final arrangements (e.g., making funeral arrangements, writing a will, giving away prized possessions)
  • Changes in behavior, appearance, thoughts and/or feelings

What to Do

Youth who feel suicidal may not seek help directly. However, parents, school personnel, and peers can recognize the warning signs and take immediate action to keep the youth safe. When a youth gives signs that they may be considering suicide, the following actions should be taken:

  • Remain calm.
  • Ask the youth directly if he or she is thinking about suicide.
  • Focus on your concern for their well-being and avoid being accusatory.
  • Listen.
  • Reassure them that there is help and they will not feel like this forever.
  • Do not judge.
  • Provide constant supervision and do not leave the youth alone.
  • Remove means for self-harm.
  • Get help: peers should not agree to keep the suicidal thoughts a secret. Instead, they should tell an adult such as a parent, teacher, or school psychologist. Parents should seek help from school or community mental health resources as soon as possible. School staff should take the student to the designated school mental health professional or administrator.